Issue of October 23, 2016
Mt. Province

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That is what people of the Cordillera felt after Super Typhoon Lawin left the country on Friday with lesser casualties and damages expected of a weather disturbance that was earlier projected to be stronger than Super Typhoon Yolanda.

At the onset, 13 people from Benguet, Kalinga, and Ifugao perished mostly due to landslides while rescuers race against time in finding those reported missing.

People are thankful they were spared from catastrophic situations when Lawin passed through the Cordillera on its way to Cagayan. Weather specialists compared Lawin to Yolanda that hit Tacloban in November 2013, leaving 7,300 people dead and thousands homeless.

As warned by the weather bureau, typhoons Lawin and Yolanda are almost equal in strength and impact prompting our concerned local chief executives, disaster risk reduction and management councils (DRRMCs), and other concerned agencies to act accordingly to prevent a repeat of the number of casualties in Tacloban.

Cordillerans were battered by Typhoon Pepeng in October 2009 where close to 500 people died and billions worth of public and private properties were damaged.

The lesser number of casualties could be attributed to the growing awareness of Cordillerans on disaster readiness and preparedness and the sustained early warnings from various provincial and municipal DRRMCs.

One proof of this growing awareness on disaster preparedness is that people have become more receptive of the warnings of concerned government agencies.

Pre-emptive evacuations especially in identified geo-hazard areas were effective while suspension of classes greatly helped in ensuring the safety of students and teaching personnel in this mountainous region.

There is also something good about being in a landlocked region with the weather bureau reporting that Northern Luzon’s mountainous areas greatly helped in mitigating the storm’s strength.

We also laud the move of the Department of Transportation in issuing travel advisories to operators to suspend trips of all public utility vehicles, especially buses, before Lawin made a landfall.

Many public and private offices likewise heeded the typhoon signal warnings by dismissing their employees earlier on Wednesday.

With the declaration of Apayao and Kalinga under a state of calamity, we support the officials’ clamor for immediate support and assistance from the national government to help these local government units and their constituents get back on their feet.

We also thank the countless men and women in uniform, including civic groups and civilian volunteers, for risking their lives, as they render service beyond the call of duty every time a natural disturbance hits our communities.

In spite of the damages and casualties left by Lawin, we are grateful to the Almighty for protecting us from the wrath of the typhoons that have crossed our path in the past decades.

But there is no better substitute to disaster readiness. By now, we have realized that experience, indeed, is the best teacher, which means we have learned from the mistakes of the past. May this help us make better decisions during typhoons in the future.



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